Ottawa passive house by EkoBuilt
Healthy Living

EkoBuilt featured in Capital Magazine

A nice overview of Passive House offerings in the Ottawa area featuring EkoBuilt has been published in the current issue of Capital, the magazine of the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce and business community. The article by Matt Curtis appears on page 22.

It’s great to see this kind of coverage and we’re delighted that EkoBuilt’s Trillium model is featured in the article’s picture.

Quick links

Article from Capital Magazine on passive house builders in Ottawa

Solar panels and energy tax in Canada
Energy & Household Trends, Solar Power

Canada needs a unified strategy on taxing energy

The CBC recently carried a story, P.E.I. man wants to know why he pays HST on electricity he generates himself, which left us scratching our heads. Honestly, this poor guy lives in a province where oil consumption for heating houses is exempt from HST, yet electricity is not, and legislation requires that he be taxed for generating it. Worse still? This man, whose solar panels are producing more electricity than he needs for his home, allowing him to sell the remainder through net metering to the grid, notes that the province’s customers then pay HST on what they use.

An article like this one illustrates approaches to carbon pricing in Alberta and Ontario, where oil is very much subject to taxing: http://www.macleans.ca/economy/economicanalysis/what-carbon-prices-in-alberta-and-ontario-will-cost-… Although taxed federally, as of late 2016 electricity consumption in Ontario no longer has the provincial portion (8%) of HST applied to consumers’ bills, whereas electricity pricing in Alberta remains steady following recent carbon pricing shifts.

Part of the problem with rationalizing energy pricing and taxation, of course, is the huge variation in energy generation infrastructure across the provinces and territories. Unlike Ontario, whose electricity is “90% emissions-free, thanks in part to Ontario’s early action to close coal-fired power generation” (source: https://www.ontario.ca/page/cap-and-trade-ontario), P.E.I. is in a much less fortunate position, with no active hydro-electric station, and a reliance on both out-of-province sources of electricity, as well as two in-province sources that are fired by diesel and oil.

None of the above really helps to explain how P.E.I. can tax someone who is generating clean electricity to contribute to a grid that is sorely lacking in local, clean sources of electricity, nor how it can fail to tax oil usage. The CBC story further explains that P.E.I.’s government and Maritime Electric claim that “federal tax law requires HST be charged to homeowners involved in net metering…[and that] homeowners could claim back the HST by registering as a business.” Are there any more hoops that homeowners should jump through in the name of nonsense?

While it may be understandably challenging for Canada to develop a unified and logical strategy on carbon taxing, there is an undeniable need for green solutions like solar electricity generation to be supported, not hindered! The future needs to be carbon-free, and solar panels are helping us to get there, along with individuals like the P.E.I. man who decided to build the most energy efficient home he could afford, unaware that the government would penalize him for doing so.

Bee in purple wildflower
Landscaping & Gardening

Not just another year in the garden

Each spring in the garden represents a fresh start. This year our fresh start is on a bigger, blanker canvas. We’ve now got siding on the house, but everything else outside is pretty much up for grabs! Here’s where we might look for some inspiration as we get started:

Garden Days – this 10-day celebration of National Garden Day comes in mid June (9 – 18 June, 2017) and provides great opportunities to visit local gardens and other gardening spots; check out the website for activities in your area.

Tips for planting a bee-friendly gardenBee in purple wildflower (David Suzuki) – with honeybees and other bee populations in decline, it’s a no brainer to make sure our gardens contain plants that will attract and sustain bees.

There are lots of great tips available online, but a good starting point is the David Suzuki Foundation.

2017 Trends in Garden Design – this overview from Garden Design Magazine is out of the U.S., but many of the trends and looks apply to us north of the border. This year heralds a return to a more natural aesthetic in the garden after quite a few seasons of more manicured, controlled outdoor spaces; this includes outdoor furnishings. Recent trends like attractive edible plants have grown to include natural dye gardens (yup, growing plants that you can use to dye yarns, textiles and clothing). Cool!

Sourcing local…everywhere you look, more and more local seed producers are turning up, making it easier than ever to select plants – ornamental and edible alike – that will thrive where you live.

Want to choose garlic that will actually flourish in your garden? Find a local gardener who’s been nurturing a local variety for years and ‘borrow’ a few bulbs that you can plant in your own garden. The same applies to any plants you want to introduce to your garden.

The Wild GardenIn the Ottawa region, we’re intrigued by emerging players like The Wild Garden, which offers a Monthly Herbal Box program, walks and workshops, and other opportunities to learn more about native wild foods and herbs.

Endangered native species…we’ll consider planting trees and plants that are native but under threat. The Butternut tree is a great example in Eastern Ontario. Native to this part of Canada for thousands of years, it has been threatened by Butternut Canker Disease. The Rideau Valley Conservation Authority runs a Butternut Recovery Program that’s worth exploring if you live in the area.

Oh, and anything we choose will likely have some element of ‘low maintenance’ built in. I think we’re all looking for that!

What’s inspiring you in your outdoor spaces this year?

Wood engineered siding on the EkoModel Home
EkoModel News, House Design

Engineered Wood Siding: Beautiful & Sustainable

In spring 2017 we installed siding on the EkoModel Home. If you’ve followed the build of this passive house that we’re using as a showroom for what we can build, you’ll be familiar with its two-storey, flat-roofed visage.

This 2,506 square foot home includes 4 bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms, and beautiful, sun-filled rooms from its south-facing rear orientation. When it came time to clad the exterior, we wanted to choose a product with a high degree of renewable or recycled content that would also be:

  • affordable
  • a natural material
  • extremely low maintenance, and – most important of all –
  • look great!

We choose an engineered wood siding product, GOODStyle by Goodfellow (a Canadian company), that comes with a 40-year guarantee and has 100% recycled content.

Offered in planks, shingles or panels, GOODStyle siding is available in a vast array of colours. We opted for a mix of grey and mustard tones, giving the house depth and interest. You can realize your own perfect exterior with the many options and colourways available from Goodfellow.

For more detail, view the GOODStyle by Goodfellow brochure.

Before and After Photos

The rear, south-facing aspect of the house is where the common living areas are focused.

The front of the home, which is north-facing, has smaller windows.

Goodfellow Engineered Siding Photo Gallery

Find out more about the EkoModel Home passive house, and Goodfellow siding. Contact us today!

Graphic courtesy of TheFix.com
Energy Efficiency, Home Building trends, House Design, Simply Sustainable

Add a little inspiration to your spring

It’s feeling like spring really has sprung, and it seems like a good idea to share some of the inspirational ideas we’ve been storing away over the winter. Fun and clever stuff that will get the cogs in your brain whirring!

Making your old wood ‘pallet-able’

How to upcycle pallets into “rustic-industrial” stuff for your home

Pallet safety infographicThis article from theFix.com was recently shared on Treehugger.

It helps to determine which pallets are safe to use, and which are not, and also contains a fun and informative infographic on how to prepare pallets for whatever project you might have in mind.

Also from theFix.com is Home Improvement Projects You Can Do with Reclaimed Wood, which gets the same cool infographic treatment, making for a quick and lively review of some neat design options.

 


Passive house on wheels anyone?

Cargo van conversionDigital nomad’s ultra-minimalist van conversion includes hidden bike rack (Video)

We’ve all seen our fill of tiny home projects, including many models designed for hitting the road. This sleek cargo van conversion is a really cool addition to the options available to anyone wanting to live on the road.


Just plain cool

10 Ways to Repurpose Vintage Furniture (Apartment Therapy)
All-in-one cube is ‘room within a room’ that hides bed, bike, closet & office (Treehugger)
Genius Trash to Treasure Crafts (Good Housekeeping)

Happy Spring!

Healthy Brain & Body Show
Healthy Living

Ottawa set to host The Healthy Brain and Body Show

The Healthy Brain and Body Show is coming to the EY Centre in Ottawa on April 22 – 23, 2017. The show will focus on total health, allowing participants to discover innovative products and services. The hope is that anyone who attends will leave the show feeling inspired!

The show will present expert speakers on nutrition, energy, wellness and related topics;  100+ booths; demos; samples; and interactive exhibits. Other highlights include:

  • The Functional Training Academy will be holding TRX demos every 30 minutes at the show! TRX Training draws on leading-edge research and best practices from the military, pro sports, and academic institutions. It is a great workout and a whole lot of fun. Drop by and try it for free!
  • Demos running the gamut from massage to makeovers – plan to leave the show feeling relaxed and rejuvenated!
  • A beautifully lit, quiet meditation area run by Simply Meditation, a not-for-profit in Ottawa who have a simple mission: to make meditation accessible to anyone, anywhere.
  • Nutritious and delicious food tastings.
  • Escape Manor will be setting up a cage in the show! You must work together as a team and use your brains and instincts to figure out a way to escape. Put your skills to the test with this super fun activity as you take a break from shopping. The cage is only $5!

Admission is free, but donations will be accepted at the door in support of H.E.L.P, an organization which helps military and first responders affected by PTSD.

The most important relationship in our lives is the one we have with ourselves. My vision for The Healthy Brain and Body Show is to create a place where people can come together and learn how their mental, emotional and physical health are intimately interconnected and affect each other profoundly.
Sarah Roberts – Co Founder of The Show

We’ll be attending the show and look forward to seeing you there!

Click for full details of The Healthy Brain and Body Show.

Ottawa home builder EkoBuilt at the Ottawa Home & Garden Show 2017
EkoModel News, Home Building trends

Your questions answered!

The Ottawa Home & Garden Show last weekend was a tremendous experience. As ever, we enjoyed many rich conversations and answered a lot of questions. We thought we’d share some background here for our newest readers.

Who we are and how we are different?

EkoBuilt is a company committed to building homes design for the 21st-century. This means strikingly designed and deeply comfortable homes that are easily and cheaply heated and cooled with electricity.

Why do we do what we do?

It is our goal to get anyone and everyone in a quality passive house as affordably as possible. Our minimalist approach to design and investment in finding the right products/materials/systems have made this abundantly possible.

What exactly do we do?

First and foremost, we design and build low-energy homes that need no furnace or boiler.

How is this possible?

Super insulated, airtight and vapour tight construction.

What do we use for heat and air conditioning?

Even in a low energy home, heating and cooling systems are needed, but in a passive house, we just need a simple air to air source heat pump which is cheap to install and cheap to operate. These systems are not viable in conventional homes because the heating and cooling demands are too high.

On average, a passive house in winter with no sun and -30°C needs approximately 6 kWh of energy per day to keep house comfortably at 21 degrees. That’s amazing!

What about fresh air?

Even homes built to standard code require an HRV [heat recovery fresh air ventilator]. The difference is that conventional HRV units are 65% efficient, whereas passive house HRVs are 95% efficient.

The passive house unit also removes humidity which is important because these homes are vapour tight.

Find out more

If you’re new to EkoBuilt and our site, you can check out the Passive House and Coach House sections. The blog is also a deep source of detailed content on all of the above.

Ottawa Home and Garden Show 2017
Coach / Tiny Homes, EkoBuilt News & Happenings

Ottawa Home & Garden Show 2017

The 2017 Ottawa Home & Garden Show is coming this weekend and we’ll be there! Will you?

Ottawa Home & Garden Show, 23-26 March 2017, EY Centre, Ottawa

Show Features

  • More then 30,000 sq. ft. will be devoted to a stunning indoor garden display and you’ll have the chance to vote on the People’s Choice Award for best garden build 2017.
  • Ultimate Upcycle Challenge: Eat Your Veggies! is putting a fresh spin on the deep-rooted tradition of growing vegetables and herbs. Ottawa’s top influencers are sourcing a pre-loved furniture item from the Re-Store and turning it into a functional and trendy urban garden. Don’t miss your chance to bid on these one-of-a-kind pieces during a silent auction at the show. All proceeds will benefit Habitat for Humanity and help local families.
  • Experts in Landscaping and DIY will provide tips, guidance and inspiration.
  • Kick back and enjoy the show vibe at the new Perth Brewery Beer Gardens.
  • Coach House Alley will keep the spotlight on the new coach house by-laws in Ottawa and feature vendors like EkoBuilt who offer great coach house solutions.

Get Your Tickets

Save $3 per ticket by purchasing them online: Ottawa Home & Garden Show 2017 Tickets.

 

 

EkoBuilt's passive house solar engine
EkoBuilt News & Happenings, Solar Power

Your House Needs a Solar Engine, and We’ve Got It

The Eko Solar Engine - passive house infographic

Click to see full size illustration.

We now have the opportunity to take houses off the grid and power them with energy completely derived from the sun. Your home can work smarter and save you money all year round.

At EkoBuilt, we’ve invested a lot of time and know-how into developing the perfect solar engine for your home, and we’ve created a special infographic to easily convey how it works.

This simple, fully documented and proven complete building solution is completely unique and makes it extremely easy for anyone to achieve energy independence. Our solar engine uses the latest available technologies to make this not only possible but affordable – NOW!

The beauty of the system is that you can apply it in part or in its entirety, depending on your situation.

Want to learn more about the Eko Solar Engine?

Click here for full details.

Click here to get in touch with us to explore what you need for your home.

 

House with recessed LED lighting
Energy & Household Trends, Energy Efficiency

Why you should light your home with LEDs

Whether you’re building a new home or considering retrofitting the lighting in an existing home, if energy conservation matters to you there is only one type of light you should consider: LED lighting.

What are LEDs?

LED stands for Light Emitting Diodes. The following is an extract from How Stuff Works on How Light Emitting Diodes Work:

Basically, LEDs are just tiny light bulbs that fit easily into an electrical circuit. But unlike ordinary incandescent bulbs, they don’t have a filament that will burn out, and they don’t get especially hot. They are illuminated solely by the movement of electrons in a semiconductor material, and they last just as long as a standard transistor. The lifespan of an LED surpasses the short life of an incandescent bulb by thousands of hours. Tiny LEDs are already replacing the tubes that light up LCD HDTVs to make dramatically thinner televisions.

The Recessed LEDs We Recommend

In the EkoModel Home, we used recessed LED lighting throughout the home.

The product we chose to use is from a company called Energy Efficient Lighting based in Markham, Ontario:

4 inch UltraThin LED Recessed Luminaire Round – UTLED-S9W-3KWH

These recessed lights only require 9W of energy and are rated for an amazing 50,000 hours. They retail for about $30 per unit.

For a list of agents carrying these lights, see Energy Efficient Lighting’s website.